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Politics & Government

Stories about politics and government actions

Jasper Nance / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

This week alone, four people were shot and killed by one gunman in Detroit. There was an apparent murder-suicide in Southfield. A Grand Rapids man was killed after being shot ten times. And today, two people were shot and killed at Central Michigan University.

Government leaders in Washington and in Lansing are trying to come up with ways to prevent mass shootings. The main focus is on shootings at schools, such as the one last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Yoichi Okamoto / Wikimedia Commons

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 29, 1968, a presidential commission released a report on why there had been so many uprisings, civil disturbances, and riots by black citizens in cities across the country.

The Kerner Report blamed the civil disturbances on white racism. Its most quoted line is: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, and one white – separate and unequal.”

Daniel Hensel / Michigan Radio

Tire shops around the state are busy these days. Why? Blowouts due to potholes.

But why are there so many potholes when we’ve been paying more in fees and fuel taxes?

AgriLife Today / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Michigan Farm Bureau is backing new rules for withdrawing water and House Republicans are obliging them so far.

Vicki Barnett, the former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, joined Stateside to discuss this week’s political news.

They discussed whether the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) uses the most current science and methods to evaluate the quality of water withdrawal for irrigation, how to balance interests between farmers and environmentalists, and the risks of overusing our water resources.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Detroit schools superintendent Nikolai Vitti is crystal clear about his position on potentially arming teachers: It’s a bad idea, and the vast majority of teachers feel that way too.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has a different view: that arming some highly-trained, qualified and vetted teachers would provide an “extra layer of security,” and is one option for making schools into “harder targets” for attacks like mass shootings.

Pearl Pirie / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Roads, flood damage repairs, and an investigation could get money sent their way soon. The Legislature sent a spending bill to the governor’s desk today.

Every lawmaker in the House and Senate voted in favor of the bill. The big ticket item is roads – $175 million spread out to cities and villages, county road commissions and state road preservation and projects.

“For the roads, it’s probably been the worst Michigan winter we’ve had in 15 to 20 years when you look at the freeze and the thaw, the freeze and the thaw," said Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is throwing his support behind Democrat Gretchen Whitmer for governor.

Duggan says the former Lansing-area state senator will be an important “partner” for the city in Lansing. He pledged to work every day “for the next eight months” to drum up support for Whitmer, and boost voter turnout in Detroit.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The four Democrats vying become Michigan’s next governor talked public education and public sector jobs at a union-sponsored town hall in Detroit Tuesday night.

Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar, and Bill Cobbs largely agreed on the issues.

All agreed that teachers are underpaid, under-valued, and that arming them is not the answer to school shootings.

michigan state university sign
Branislav Ondrasik / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In response to the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University, state legislators have submitted bills to fight sexual assault. They have bi-partisan support, but the Catholic Church and the ACLU say they’re concerned about one bill that would let people who were abused as children file lawsuits until they're 48 years old. Now, most suits have to be filed by the time the accuser turns 19.

Senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry tells Michigan Radio’s “Morning Edition” host Doug Tribou what he thinks of the bill.


New Detroit police officers receiving their badges
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Police Department wants to boost its budget and add personnel in the coming budget year, but some in the department want to focus on keeping the officers the department already has.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s budget proposes an additional $8 million for police in the coming fiscal year.

The department wants to use much of that to add another 141 employees to its ranks.

Why are Michigan roads so bad? Because we don’t put enough money into fixing them.

Why is that? Because lawmakers don’t fear underfunding the state’s roads will cost them on Election Day.

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler speaks at Hillsdale College on on January 25, 2009.
Chuck Grimmett / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Former Governor John Engler will donate his salary while serving as Michigan State University's interim president. Engler took over the role after Lou Anna Simon resigned amid criticism over MSU's handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

Engler's appointment has drawn both praise and criticism. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about how he's doing so far. 


artist rendering of proposed bridge
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

One of the ways that the state of Michigan takes action is by passing legislation. The state House and Senate pass bills, send them on to the governor and if he signs them, they become law. However, the governor has an end-around option that doesn't involve the Legislature and doesn't get much attention.

Bill Wild
Courtesy of Bill Wild campaign

Westland Mayor Bill Wild has officially added his name to the growing list of candidates to replace former Congressman John Conyers.

Wild is a Democrat who's served as Westland's mayor since 2007. He says he views Conyers' vacant U.S. House seat as "a call to service."

Elderly woman
Borya / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A plan to downsize a Kalamazoo nursing home that has some residents’ families and elder advocates crying foul is on hold for now, according to the facility’s CEO.

In January, the Harold and Grace Upjohn Community Care Center sent out a letter announcing imminent plans to downsize by 42 residents as part of a larger facility overhaul, saying some would have to "transition" to other locations.

AR 15 in carrier case
Photo by Zachary Newton from Pexels / https://www.pexels.com/photo-license/

Since the massacre at a school in Parkman, Florida, Michigan schools have been responding to threats in their communities. Students in Kalamazoo drafted a petition about gun legislation that quickly got tens of thousands of signatures.

Michigan Radio's senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry joined "Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou to discuss gun control and school safety. 


Stateside 2.19.2018

Feb 19, 2018

Today on Stateside, we discuss what exactly an AR-15 is, and why they're so popular. And, we hear why history proves solving poverty requires more than just a silver bullet.

As part of the state Legislature’s response to Michigan State University’s handling of Larry Nassar, lawmakers are asking the state’s 15 public universities to explain their policies on sexual misconduct.

But, the questions are not stopping there.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A bill stalled in the Michigan state Senate is the latest skirmish in a national fight over who will supply water pipes to cities.

State Senator Rick Jones says his bill is about giving communities choice when it comes to picking pipes for public works projects. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This year’s mid-term congressional elections could be the most expensive ever in Michigan.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports the 30 candidates running in Michigan’s 14 congressional districts raised $14.7 million as of the end of last year.   And the money keeps rolling in.

The network’s Craig Mauger says Democrats are benefiting from donors wanting to defeat Republicans and derail President Trump’s agenda.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (left) and Special Counsel Todd Flood, along with Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton and the Flint Water Investigative Team have been investigating the Flint water crisis for most of the year
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State Attorney General Bill Schuette faced questions this week over whether the state's inquiry into Michigan State University's handling of the Larry Nassar scandal is truly independent. In a newly released letter regarding his appointment of Bill Forsyth to lead the investigation, Schuette says Forsyth will "serve under my direction and at my pleasure."

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Schuette's role in the investigation.


Mr Niceguy / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

It’s been a busy week in Lansing, between Governor Rick Snyder calling for a variety of policies in the Detroit Free Press, and Democrats and Republicans working together on a controversial tax bill.

Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and former Republican Majority Leader in the Michigan Senate, and Vikki Barnett, former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, joined Stateside to discuss the week’s political news.

Medical Marijuana
Dank Depot / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Existing medical marijuana dispensaries had until Thursday to turn their applications in to a state licensing board with proof that their local governments are allowing them to operate.

The dispensaries have been allowed to continue to sell marijuana to licensed card-holders for the past two months. That’s while the state ramps up a new licensing system.

Dispensaries that have not turned in applications are likely to be denied future requests for a license.

user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

Lawmakers are considering a proposal to change how the state selects the governing bodies of three of its major universities.

Right now, 12 university governing boards are picked by the governor. Three – Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University – are elected. The measure would turn those three university boards into governor appointments.

Harley Wales for Kalkaska Village President

A candidate has come forward to challenge Kalkaska's controversial village president Jeff Sieting at the ballot box.

Sieting's violent anti-Muslim and racist Facebook posts brought national attention to the village.

Kalkaska is expected to hold a recall election in May.

The necessary number of signatures have been collected for the recall, and Sieting has until February 26 to challenge the signatures. But it looks like he won't.

Harley Wales, 45 years old, announced this week that he will run against Sieting.  

Beitler Real Estate Services

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor is reopening, slightly, the bidding process involved in the sale of city hall. 

Looking up into the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol.
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State universities might face budget reductions for failing to meet benchmarks to address and prevent campus sexual assault and harassment. That’s part of a proposal rolled out by the Senate higher education budget subcommittee. It would hold back funding for universities that don’t meet all the requirements of Title Nine and other programs to prevent campus sexual misconduct.

The plan has bipartisan support.

marijuana plants
Rusty Blazenhoff / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

In 2012, Grand Rapids residents voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

And in 2016, Michigan lawmakers passed the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, which set up the licensing and regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry.

But as a story in MiBiz points out, despite all that, Grand Rapids has not moved towards allowing medical marijuana facilities.

aerial photo of the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

President Donald Trump's new budget proposal would cut 90 percent of the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The program helps clean up the lakes and protect them against invasive species.

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A ballot campaign will begin collecting signatures to add a voting rights amendment to the state constitution.

The effort is backed by the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, and the Detroit branch of the NAACP.

The ACLU’s Kary Moss says the proposal would allow early voting and make it easier for people to vote absentee.

“If somebody wants to vote absentee, they have to be over 60 years old, they have to have an excuse," Moss said. "This proposal would allow for no-excuse absentee voting.”

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